BISMARCK -- Warm weather has sent farmers in the region rushing into the fields. But with so many producers from multiple states all starting operations at the same time, farmers are finding it more difficult to get the fertilizer they need.
“North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin utilize some of the same resources for fertilizer,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said in a statement. “Everyone is trying to use the same trucks, facilities and manufacturers, and it is creating a supply issue.”
To help with deliveries, North Dakota Farmers Union called for and Gov. Doug Burgum signed a temporary waiver of hours of service restrictions for commercial drivers as they are trying to move more fertilizer in a shorter time frame. The waiver will remain in place through May 30.
“Because of the restrictions in hours that drivers can log and the late spring, we’re running into problems with getting anhydrous ammonia and other inputs to the field in a timely manner,” NDFU President Mark Watne said in a statement. “A short-term waiver of hours of service requirements will ensure farmers get the inputs they need to complete spring planting.”
At the Dakota Gasification Company urea plant near Beulah, the wait for fertilizer has spanned as much as five hours according to distributors. Late last week, DGC opened a second loading bay, said Curt Pearson, a spokesman for DGC parent company Basin Electric Power Cooperative.
“We are doing what we can to get the urea fertilizer produced at DGC to market as quickly as possible,” he said. “Staff have been fine-tuning the loading system to improve the time it takes to load each truck, which will allow more trucks to be loaded each day. At DGC, trucks can load urea fertilizer 24 hours a day and our goal is to load 100 trucks per day.”
Traffic picking up anhydrous ammonia and ammonium sulfate products at the plant has been steady as well, Pearson said.
Goehring said he has spoken with fertilizer plant managers who have said they have never previously experienced a shortage to this degree.
“They sympathize with their customers and feel the same level of anxiety and frustration. They are trying to find a way to supply the demand,” Goehring said. “Please be patient and understanding. They have indicated they would like to sell it if they had it .... We believe that this is a short-term problem and will begin to correct itself within the next two weeks.”